With the cynicism pervading American democracy in 2020 there is no finer time to imagine what comes next. While much of the science fiction that explores new political and economic systems tends to be dystopian in nature, not all of it is corporate nation states or socialist panopticons run amok. Indeed many authors are exploring concepts like the decentralized state, hyper local democracy, and currency systems. Here are some of the more recent novels that are guiding my imagination from the last decade of fiction
The Centenal Cycle series by Malka Older is a political optimist’s future disguised as a thriller. Infomacracy, the first in the series, is particularly relevant for those who want to explore a thought experiment on hyper-local government and a post-nation world.
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz is strictly speaking a biohacker thriller but the underlying exploration of ownership, property and patents will appeal to libertarians and its skeptics.
Distraction by Bruce Sterling is explicitly a political novel focused on the impending dissolution of America during an election year. While not particularly optimistic it is an excellent look at the motivation of corporate actors in nation states
The Expanse is having a cultural moment with the premier of its 5th season on Prime and the impending publication of its 9th and final novel. Humanity has populated Mars and the outer planets leaving humans (and Earth) to grapple with classism, trade tensions, a new colonial economics and the possibility of interplanetary war.
The Analog Series by Eliot Pepper looks like a classical political thriller that pits a jaded lobbyist against tech and energy executives but has a deeper exploration of an information economy that relies on total transparency. An excellent companion to Infomacracy that pits centralization against individual autonomy.
Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross is more economic fiction than political but worth a read for its concept of slow money alone. How do stores of value function in a future with faster than light travel?
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver is economic fiction about a family that is torn apart by a currency crisis. A bit meandering but worth it for cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Further references to economic fiction can be found in this excellent overview by Rick Liebling. I have also put up a Twitter thread that has more options that are classics in the genre.